20 years of combating torture in Europe

The general report recalls the gradual extension of the CPT’s field of operations across Europe. Nevertheless, it points out that there remain certain parts of the continent in which the Committee has not yet been able to operate, in particular Belarus. The CPT expresses the hope that the time will soon be ripe to extend an invitation to the Belarus authorities to accede to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, by which the Committee was established.

The report stresses that successfully combating deliberate forms of ill-treatment involves overcoming the problem of impunity, which the CPT has encountered in many countries. In addition, it is essential to get to grips with the phenomenon of overcrowding, which continues to blight prison systems throughout Europe; the report emphasises that “simply building more prisons is not the solution”. Attention is also drawn to the fundamental need for States founded on human rights and the rule of law to remain true to these basic values when fulfilling the obligation to protect their citizens (for example, against acts of terrorism).

The general report provides information on the 19 visits carried out by the CPT between August 2008 and July 2009. In particular, it explains the main objectives of the nine ad hoc visits deemed to have been “required in the circumstances”. The report also includes highlights from recently published visit reports and government responses; they provide an insight into some of the major issues which the Committee confronts during its work and the action taken by States to address them.

In a substantive section of the general report, the CPT sets out its views on safeguards for irregular migrants deprived of their liberty. Issues addressed include material conditions of detention, legal safeguards and health issues. Particular attention is paid to the principle of “non-refoulement”, as well as to the necessity for specific safeguards for unaccompanied and separated children.

Full text of the report: